If you somehow ended up here then you found a link I haven't yet updated. The new Tech Index page is now just a link page, this page was just getting way too graphic intensive for any dial-up. I'll leave the original page here but it will not be updated as the section grows.
Used Guitar Primer - Cleanup To Setup
There's a good reason this is the first section in Tech, and that's because this is the most common user error when it comes to floating trem systems. Strings of course stretch when you play them, everybody should be familiar with the concept. With a hardtail or fixed bridge, if you don't stretch the strings and do some bending you just have to retune the stretched strings back to pitch. The strings that stretched also didn't affect the pitch of the other strings. This is not the case with a floating system. Floating trems are simply, a pain in the ass! You really have to *want* to enjoy the benefits of a great double locking system to put up with all the technicalities and *rules* you must follow to get the most out of it, while causing you the least amount of distress. If you've never had one before you will have a steep learning curve before you will feel confident with the system, but that's why this Tech section exists. There is alot to know, so get started reading, but don't just *read*, *comprehend*. ;o}
In a double locking system where the strings are locked at the nut and bridge, what affects one string will affect them all. If your low E stretches just a little and goes flat the rest of the bridge will compensate and the other strings will go sharp. You've decreased the overall tension of the strings without decreasing the overall tension the springs are applying to the bridge [the springs are still pulling just as hard so they will pull the rest of the strings sharp]. There's a reason when a suspension bridge is built the cables are pre-stretched before they are ever hung, otherwise when you finished the bridge you might be driving on water. Steel [or any other wire] will stretch when put under tension, and will stretch ALOT. This will be amplified because a floating system can be pulled up to raise the pitch, which is pulling harder than a typical string bend will. I cannot stress enough how important it is to fully stretch new strings until they will not stretch any more, before you ever lock the nut the first time. There's also a funny thing about stretched wire. You can put new strings on your guitar today, fully stretch the strings until it's perfect. Put that guitar away for 2 weeks and pull it out. Give the low E a good pull and watch how far it drops in pitch. The metal will realign at the molecular level and will need to be stretched again after it does. This *re-stretch* is very quick as it will only take one good stretch to fully stretch this string again, unlike a new string which you might stretch for 5 minutes straight to get all the stretch out of it. [I absolutely HATE 7 strings because the low B just takes forever to stretch in fully]
How To Stretch Your Strings
Of course you will need a tuner and the full guitar should be tuned to pitch, or pretty close, before you begin [perfect pitch of the whole bridge will be lost in the stretching anyway, but you want it close]. I always start with the high E because I save the hardest work for last. The smaller the string diameter the less it will stretch, and the easier it is to break! Care should be taken when stretching the high E [sometimes the B] and the D string as the inner core of a D is actually about a .010 gauge string.
Grab the string mid scale and pull it back and forth simulating the hardest bend and vibrato you would ever put on a high E string. Stop, check the pitch and retune. Stretch again. Repeat until you can stretch it twice in a row with no drop in pitch. Move to the next string and repeat. The bigger the gauge the harder you should be pulling it to get all the stretch out of it. When I'm stretching wound strings I'm more worried about pulling a saddle forward than anything else, I pull them that hard when stretching them out. It will take me 10 minutes to fully stretch in a 6 string, and I do this for a living. Expect it to take you longer as you might not feel comfortable exerting the forces on the strings that I do, after all I have 30 or 40 spare packs of strings and singles lying around, it's no biggie if I break one, and I do break them fairly often. The whole point is that if your strings are not **fully** stretched you can expect them to go out of tune after you start playing the guitar, or especially, start wanking around on the whammy. When the strings are **fully** stretched you can be as violent as you want with the whammy bar and always expect it to return to perfect pitch [given that there are no other bugs keeping your system from a correct return, covered in other sections here]
There is a trick to it at this stage. With both non-tremolo and 'vintage' tremolo guitars you can bring each string to pitch independently of the other strings. This is not so with a floating tremolo! Though each saddle is separate from the others, they are all mounted together on a single, large plate. In order to get your strings evenly in tune, you will need to tune in "stages". What we mean by this is this: start with the low E string. Turn the tuner until the string is no longer slack, and then move on to the A string. Do this with all the strings. Remember, you're not trying to achieve any type of tuning yet - you're just pulling up all the slack. After this is done, begin with the low E again, and turn the tuner about half a turn, then move to the A string. Do this to all the strings. Then repeat it. Check yourself with a tuner. Eventually, you will get close to being in tune. When everything is close, go ahead and finesse your tuners so they are in tune. *Why is this lengthy process necessary,* you might ask, *and why can't I just tune normally?* Good question! The answer is that attempting to tune "normally" will result in a tremolo unit that has pulled up from the body to such an extent that the action is now about half an inch high, and totally unplayable. Doing it this way will keep your action low and tremolo in the right place. (typed verbatim from the Ibanez' "How to tune your floating tremolo system")
If you already screwed up and the tail of your bridge is sticking way up in
the air with the action 1/2" off the fretboard the only sure way to cure it is
to crank in on the trem springs and start backing down the tuning. Be prepared
for a real pain in the ass because as the springs adjust to the tension then
you'll have to readjust them and retune the guitar, over and over until they
settle [when they stop pulling the strings sharp or flat as they adjust].
This will be your last step before the guitar is ready to play. The guitar will be fully setup to your liking and in perfect tune, strings FULLY stretched. These are the steps I follow with every floating bridge guitar I setup.
When locking the nut pads you will notice they will twist following the motion of the Allen wrench. The bass side of the pad will pull that string sharp and the treble side of the pad will push that string flat. You can minimize this but getting the pad bolt to just make contact with the pad, and with a smooth "jerk" crank the bolts down to lock, minimizing the amount of twist in the pad. DO NOT over tighten the bolts, it's the easiest way to strip a nut base and will leave you buying a replacement nut! You want the pads firmly tight, just enough to keep the strings from moving under them, you are not trying to crush the string!
With the strings now locked at the nut it's time to "set" the knife edges in the studs. I'll give the trem a real workout, diving, pulling up, usually about 20 times [mostly dives but I want to mix in some full travel pull-ups just to make sure the strings are fully stretched and not giving any more], ALWAYS ending with a full travel dive and letting the bar return to neutral naturally. I'll extrapolate the reason -
It's very rare to find a bridge that will give you 1000% return between diving and pull-up, there will typically be a couple to all of the strings slightly to quite far out of tune [see other sections here if the difference in up and down is too much for your taste] For this reason you ALWAYS want to fine tune after the bar has risen to neutral after a dive [what I refer to as "low neutral"]. The reason for this is typically most players use the trem to dive, and even if you don't, the action of bending a string alone is pulling the trem forward so that if you've fine tuned to "high neutral" as soon as you bend a string you've pulled the bridge slightly out of tune.
You've set the knives and finished with a dive letting the bar rise to neutral. Unlock the nut pads and retune the guitar using the tuners [not fine tuners!] Once you have the guitar back in perfect tune lock the nut pads again using the method above.
Now it's time to fine tune, and with all tuning, the guitar must be tuned perfectly perpendicular to the ground. [using your tuner pluck a note and slowly rock the guitar back toward you [the face of the guitar pointed at the ceiling], watch the tuner and you will see the string go sharp, then rock the guitar forward [the face of the guitar toward the floor] and watch the string go flat. This is the effect gravity has on the floating bridge and why all tuning must be done with the guitar perfectly perpendicular to the ground, negating the effects of gravity on the bridge. [If you're quite round in the middle and the guitar hangs at an angle not perpendicular, you should tune with the guitar in the position it will be played ;)] Without putting any pressure on the bridge [disturbing it's resting spot in "low neutral"], check the tuning starting with the low E through to the high E and adjust the fine tuners on each string until it's in perfect tune [when adjusting the fine tuners it is important to not push down or pull up on the bridge, spin the fine tuners without applying any pressure on the bridge]. Repeat fine tuning low E to high E until every string is in perfect tune.
Plug the guitar in and wail away!
Setting the trem angle of your Floyd is very easy, it only requires understanding what to do. Your goal is to have the Knife Edge meet the Trem Post at a 90* angle (perpendicular). The knife edge can be seen on the side where it is press fit into the base.
When the trem is in the guitar you might need to look down in the gap between the body and the edge of the trem with good light to see it.
Simply, when the knife edge is parallel to the top of the body, it will be perpendicular to the trem post (The trem post is the round grooved bolt the knife edge sits against). It does not matter if the trem is set deep inside the body where you can barely see the knife edge, or if it's very visible if the trem is screwed far out of the body, you want it parallel to the body top. (Different models and different guitars of the same model might have deeper or shallower neck pocket routs, or thicker and thinner neck heels, so each different guitar and type may setup slightly different. If it's been tweaked by a previous owner with a neck shim, etc. then your setup could look completely different) This is a Jem10th and almost all look exactly like this when setup properly.
As you can see the knife edge is parallel to the top of the body. This holds true for all flat top Edge or Lo Pro equipped guitars. If the top of your guitar is curved like an S series, you'll want to visually try to compensate for the curve you see in the top of the body, and get the knife edge to where it looks as perpendicular to the post as possible.
Before you begin you must make sure the trem is set to the height you want (height of the trem determines the height of the action). Height changes affect tension and will slightly change the angle. Set the height before the angle by manually setting the angle using the bar while checking the height of the action, adjust, then manually adjust the angle again (using the bar) till the action height is correct. Now you are ready to set the angle.
If the back of the trem (where the fine tuners are) is sitting too low and the angle needs to be brought up, you need to release tension from the springs. Unscrew the screws that hold the spring claw to the body 1/8th to 1/4 turn. If it needs major adjustment it will take much more than a 1/4 turn, but for minor adjustments that will usually do. Retune to pitch and visually check the angle. Repeat as needed till the knife edge is perpendicular to the trem post.
If the back of the trem is too high and needs to be lowered into the body to bring the angle down, you need to screw the claw screws in 1/8th to 1/4 turn to increase the tension the springs apply. Retune to pitch and visually check the knife angle. Repeat until correct.
This is a shot of the trem, springs, claw, and spring claw screws (inside the trem cover, that cover with 6 screws in the back:)
Typical setup for 9-42 gauge strings using the typically found 52mm springs found in most Ibanez. For 8's I'll usually use 2 springs in an arrow formation, outside holes on the trem block to the 2 inner hooks on the claw. For 10 gauge sets I always add a 4th spring. Although sometimes you can screw the claw all the way to the wood with 3 and it will balance [if the springs are old they won't] but I much prefer the flexibility 4 springs give and people playing 10's usually like the extra tension anyway. To use 4 springs take off the spring lock bar and use it's screw holes so that the center slot is now empty. If you really want to use the spring lock you'll have to find springs with eyelets on both ends. They are made but I don't know where to buy them and have never used them. You can also use a set of the short 47mm springs for a 3 spring 10 gauge setup. Even heavier gauges may require a 5th spring but you can probably get away with 4 using an 11 gauge set.
Special exceptions include if your guitar has a thick neck shim that tilts the neck angle much further back. In this case you'll want the trem to be tilted slightly in the direction of the neck as now the strings are not near as parallel to the springs. More on that too come.
The more you do it the more you'll become familiar with how much adjustment your guitar needs in any given situation. Learning to rough tune quickly with a Floyd will save you much time. If the whole guitar is a half step too low, tune the low E up to G, A up to B, D up to D#, G to G#, B to B, and high E to E. It will end up much closer to 'in tune' than if you don't. Likewise if it's 1/2 step too high, lower the pitch about as far the other way, always working from the low E to the high E.
"Action" is the term used to describe how far the strings are from the frets.
This measurement is usually taken at the last fret by measuring from the top of the fret
to the bottom of the string. You can use a feeler gauge but using a simple mm rule is just
as effective, in fact I don't use feeler gauges for anything ;) Many times you will hear
action measurements including a measurement at the 12th [or some other fret]. Measuring at
the 12th fret assumes every necks bow profile is the same and they never are. The bow
profile of your neck will ultimately dictate the kind of setup that works best for it.
Some necks will show bow only from the 7th to the nut, some will show a very long smooth
even bow throughout the whole neck, and many other profiles. I measure action at the 24th,
but only to get a number to advise others, I would never setup a guitar with a mm rule,
each guitar is unique and has it's own peculiarities.
On a 250mm radius board it's more like 2mm on the wound and 1.8 on the the high side.
As low as you can get the high E with clean clear big bends.
Silly Low - Some like the neck perfectly straight or with the slightest amount of relief, and the action right on the frets. Perfectly straight neck and extremely low action will give you playability that's unparalleled for some people, a very low resistance to fretting, but there are sacrifices. The lower the action the more the strings are being choked by the frets. It has a way of disguising fret buzz by smoothing it out. On a medium action you'll hear the buzz quite well as the string is usually just pinging off of one or possibly two frets. On silly low the string is pinging off of so many frets it's not as apparent as "buzz", but what all that contact with the frets is doing is robbing your notes of the full tone that string could offer if it was allowed to breath. Processed signals can virtually hide the choking, but if you ever plug into a clean channel you'll notice right away. You can get away with silly low if you've got an extremely light pick attack. Typically in a setup this would be a perfectly straight neck to .2-.3mm of neck relief, and action height at the last fret of 1.5mm or lower. Not good for playing big bends without impeccable fretwork and a flatter radius fretboard.
Low - Adding just a little more neck relief and raising the action will give a cleaner tone, longer sustain, and tolerable buzz with a medium/light pick attack. This is usually the typical setup for guitars I ship. I like just a hair more neck relief than some as it gives cleaner wounds though most of the neck, but will get some light choking on the wounds through the upper frets. Good clear tone on the majority of the neck with and a light fingering feel and enough resistance that you can feel the strings under your fingers. Typical is .5mm of neck relief and 2mm string height on the low E, and 1.8mm on the high E at the last fret.
Medium - You can still add a little neck relief but after a certain point more relief just isn't an advantage. Raising the action height is and will continue to clean and fatten up your tone and increase the feel of the strings under your fingers. Medium relief is .5-.6mm of neck relief action of 2.5mm on the low E and 2-2.5mm on the high E.
High - Lots of frontbow and high action will give you a very clean playing guitar with full tone, and lots of extra calluses. However much neck relief you want and action on the low E at 3mm or more, action on the high E over 2.2mm to as high as you want.
The wound E is going to vibrate in an ellipse that will vary by how hard it's struck. Strike it light and it will have a small ellipse, strike it hard and it will have a much larger ellipse. A higher gauge string will vibrate in a smaller ellipse because it is strung "tighter" than a smaller gauge string to get the same pitch. Your action should be compromise of how much buzz you can take, the feel you want from the strings, and the tone you want to produce.
Setting the Action - Action is my last adjustment in a setup, after neck relief and the trem angle are set I will dial in the string height. With it approximate, I will then break and adjust the nut height since this is dependent on everything being in correct setup to get as low as possible without open string buzz, then do a fine tune on the action after the nut is set for the final adjustment before playing the guitar to determine if it needs any further tweaking.
Adjusting the action varies by the type of guitar but since this is an Ibanez site you'll find Ibanez directions. ;) Final action adjustment is the last tweak to make and should be done when the neck relief is correct [for you] and the trem angle is correct. After it's set make a final check of the setup to be positive nothing else has changed. Once action height is set it should never need adjusting, the only things that will change it are the natural changes your neck will make as it warms/cools/humidifies/dries, and the trem angle which will change for the same reasons, as your neck moves, and your body swells and shrinks. Adjust what is changing, don't just tweak the string height as a quick fix instead of tweaking what has caused the action to change.
Floating Bridge - Edge, Lo Pro, Pro Edge, and all of the double locking Floyd variants are adjusted by raising and lowering the trem studs that the knife edges pivot on. There is a small 1.5mm Allen adjustable set screw inside the studs on all Edge and Lo Pro equipped guitars that must be kept tight for the best tuning stability. Never try and loosen it with the allen wrench but use the 4mm Allen to back out [Lefty Loosey] the studs a hair to free the set screws. If raising the action raise it until it's correct and retighten the set screws. If lowering the action use the 1.5mm Allen to back out the set screw enough to allow the bridge to be lowered. When correct retighten the set screws. Important! After you've tightened the sets using the 1.5mm Allen use your 4mm Allen to tighten the studs down on the set screw to really lock the threads together and give a very solid fulcrum for the bridge. It should only be about 1/16th of a turn so don't try grinding everything together or you'll either break the head off the stud or spin the stud anchors in the body, use good sense when applying torque, but you do want the threads locked together. Adjusting the string height to a large degree will alter the tuning slightly, which can alter everything. If you are making extreme action adjustments be sure to retune, readjust the trem angle, and then recheck the action. Yes, you can adjust the studs with the strings at full pitch without fear of damaging the knife edges or the studs.
Vintage Trem and Fixed Bridge - Adjusting the action of these types of bridges entails adjusting the height of the 2 adjustment screws on each saddle. Each string is adjusted independently so it is important to keep the bridge radius in sync with the fretboard radius. Do this by measuring each string at the last fret. With this type bridge I always like to keep the same radius to the saddles themselves so they're more of a nice arc than a stepped feel across the bridge.
Gibson Type Stoptails - These are all generally adjusted by raising or lowering the mounting studs for the bridge using wheels built into the studs. On a Gilbraltar type you have to loosen the screws on top of the bridge to be able to raise or lower the bridge using the wheel adjusters. It is advisable to slack the strings to decrease the tension on the bridge to make these adjustments. Tune and check the action, repeating as many times as necessary to get correct.
Fine tuning the nut height is one of the very last steps I take in a setup, and should be done with the action and neck relief set as the guitar will be played. This will deal with the locking nuts on tremolo equipped guitars. If you have a non locking glued in nut then adjusting it's height is better left to a professional that's already spent the $160 a full set of fret files will cost. [Although if your problem is the string slots are cut or worn too deep you can carefully build up the string slots with super glue, the alternative is to have a new nut installed]
Nut height is probably one of the most crucial aspects of how your guitar feels within the first 5 frets, but it also effects the feel of the whole fretboard to some degree. Quite simply the nut should be as low as it can go without causing string buzz on the first fret. For a quick judge fret each string at the first fret and look at the clearance it has over the second. Compare to the gap between the top of the first fret and each string with the string open. Near 100% of all new Ibanez guitars have nuts that are way too high. Most of the new Jems I receive have nut height at the first fret low E around 1mm, about .7mm too high!! I've been complaining about it to the company for years and the only thing that's happened is they've gotten higher. I'm guessing factory spec must be for them to be set "way too high", so in that case, they're all perfect! But if you want a much better playing guitar you will take the time to lower the nut to the correct height. The Jems and sporadically other models will be unique in that their high nuts have nothing to do with how many shims are under it, but the fact the nut rout was never cut near deep enough to begin with, but that's the topic of another much more tedious section.
The first thing you want to do is evaluate what you have now and decide what probably needs to be done. Do you see plenty of shims under the nuts? Great, lowering it will be much easier. No shims? Are you getting fretbuzz at the first fret? Either your nut is too low, your neck does not have enough relief [or is in backbow], or the neck does not have enough relief for where the nut is set. If you have the nut set nice and low with a decent amount of neck relief and you straighten the neck too much, the nut is now too low for the straighter neck and you may get buzz on the first fret. This is why you set the nut height with the relief and action adjusted to your preference. This section will deal with a simple height adjustment where only the addition, removal, or rearrangement of shims is needed to get the desired height.
Before starting you should know that the fretboard radius will not perfectly match the radius of the nut. The nut will probably be radiused a little flatter than the frets. If you have the low and high E's as low as they should be set you'll get 1st fret buzz on the D and G strings. Because of this the nut needs to be a little higher to clean up the D/G and to compensate I will split the difference between both the high and low side of the nut. In other words instead of putting a big shim under the low side to raise it enough you want to put half as much under the low and high side to raise it evenly until the D/G are clean. You'll also find some that may have radiuses flatter than the nut causing the center to be high.
To adjust the nut height I usually find it easiest to remove all the shims under the nut and start from scratch. With the nut pads removed block the trem to it's highest angle to take as much tension off the strings as possible [this also allows you to quickly unblock it to perform checks on your height adjustment]. It is quite common [and perfectly normal] to find all the shims as half shims built up on each side, and these are quite easy to remove. Unscrew both Allen bolts that hold the nut on in the back a few turns [not necessarily all the way] from here there are two ways to lift the nut, push up on the nut using your wrench seated in the nut bolt from the back, or you can use a 3mm Allen wrench in an outer nut pad bolt hole as a lever to pull the nut up [if you're pulling the bass side shims put the wrench in the E./A pad bolt hole with the long part of the wrench also pointing to the bass side, pull up on the wrench using it as a lever to lift that side of the nut], if you do either technique while holding the guitar on it's side any half shims on that side will just fall out [visually inspect to verify they're all out]. To visualize, if you holding the guitar as if you would be playing it and raise the treble side of the nut all the shims on the treble side will fall out. Flip it over to do the bass side. If they're all gone great. More than likely you'll find a full shim or two left though. These are a little trickier to remove and before you do I suggest unblocking the trem to make sure they need to be removed or if you've already got it low enough. If it's close tighten the nut bolts [using common sense!! They only need to be tight enough to hold the nut in place, too tight and you'll crack the wood!!] because the nut will lower slightly when you tighten it, Recheck.
To remove a whole shim I'll start by backing off the string tree to free up a little more string tension. To get one out you'll either have to remove the nut mounting bots completely, or remove the string tree completely, and on some pesky "don't want to budge" shims you might have to do both. Most of the time you can just slide the nut toward the bass side then lighten the pressure on the nut and slide it back, leaving the shim stuck out enough that you can now just lift the bass side using the Allen wrench in the pad bolt lever trick to work it the rest of the way out [or grab it with some pliers if you get tired of playing with it]. I've got plenty of shims so I'll just jam a .5mm shim under the nut to force it out the other side enough to grab. Some will just not want to move [some will be virtually glued in] at all and those you can remove toward the headstock. Remove the string tree, lift one side of the nut, use something to "catch" the shim [I use the point of an Exacto knife] and work it out a little, do the other side, back and forth until it out enough to either get some needle nose pliers on or grab by some other means, then just pull it out. All JS1000/10th/90th/2000 models must have their full shims removed this way as they have an arch molded into them at the truss rod channel.
With all the shims removed re-install the string tree and unblock the trem to see where the nut height is. Play each sting to check for any choking or buzz at the first fret. If there is none, is it low enough for you? Or do you think it can go much lower [compare to the second fret gap with the strings fretted on the first] If so, move to the section on lowering the nut rout.
Hopefully it will be too low, buzzing everywhere, and now ready to build up to the correct height. This would be a good time to talk about nut shims. The shims come in 3 thicknesses, .1mm, .25mm, and .5mm. .5's are monsters and will only have a place if the original nut rout was extremely deep. .1's and .25's are your shims of choice for fine tuning the height, and most specifically, .1mm will be your best friend and offer the most precise fine tuning of the height. Sort through the shims that you've removed, a .1mm will bend if you blow on it hard enough, a .25 is fairly pliable with your fingers and you can bend it, just not like paper, a .5 is one thick tough suckah, you'll know it when you see it.
To build the nut back up is a matter of determining what it needs, and some of this will be trial and error. Is it choking on the treble side and not the bass? Shim the treble. Choking on the bass but not the treble, shim the bass. If all strings are choking start with putting the same size shim under both sides and test again. If you have a quick method for blocking the bridge [and I always use my spreader clamp to just clamp my bar to the body [my bar has an Ibanez Sure Grip foam wrap on it so it's essentially a padded bar. I started using it for this reason and fell in love with it, to the point I hate the feel of a normal bar any more]] you will find this very fast to shim, check, adjust, check, until it's right. Using the technique of a wrench as a lever in a pad bolt. I'll always start with a .25 shim and stick one under the low side and under the high side. These don't have to be fully inserted, just stuck under the side to give an idea of where it's at and what it needs. Once it stops choking/buzzing on one side, raise the other until it's clean. You can further tweak by then removing any thicker shims such as a .25 and replacing it with a .1 or two .1's until the nut is as low as it will go without choking or buzzing on the first fret. Remember the note earlier about the nut radius not matching the fret radius exactly. If the center is too low to clean up the center strings split the amount of additional height needed between the bass and treble sides. If the center is too high then you'll just have to shim the low and high side as low as possible and live with it [or have the fretboard/frets re-radiused]
When you are satisfied with the results take out the shims on both sides and analyze them. If you have a .25mm shim on each side use a whole shim instead of a half, the same with any additional shims until the only half shims I'm using are the ones that give the final tweak where using a full shim would raise the opposite side too high. If you don't have the full shims and are using halves [and there is nothing wrong with just using halves, you'll never hear a difference between using a half shim on each side as opposed to a full shim] get the halves together so they are like inserting a single shim, and fully install it under the nut until you can't feel the edge protruding past the nut, making sure they are seated flush against the L where the nut meets the fretboard. Repeat on the other side and tighten the nut snug. Test again to make sure that tightening the nut didn't lower it enough to cause any buzz and re-tweak if necessary. Some will be trial and error, some will be educated thinking, sometimes pure luck will get you there, but taking the time to get the nut height as low as possible will pay big dividends in how the guitar plays and feels.
In factory setup.
Follow these instructions to set the intonation on all Edge and Lo Pro Edge trems that are still in factory jig setup. I always remove the trem with strings on for this and then reinstall, retune, and reset the trem angle if needed before checking and tweaking the result. For the intonation to be correct the trem angle and action height must be correct and how the guitar will be played.
Leave the B alone, it's the only one that is in the right spot.
You will get some minor inconsistencies, and every guitar or string isn't equal, and the inserts in some aren't in perfect placement, but as a starting point that usually is dead on it works for me. Very minor adjustment may need to be made from this starting point, but it's usually close enough you wouldn't bother if you don't have an intonation tool.
I set intonation to the last fret fretted at the pressure you would normally play that fret. Given this is the shortest string length playable on the guitar it compensates for the lack of accuracy found in most of the tuners that will be used to set the intonation. Not many will have a Peterson strobe tuner, and using this method you will not need one. On a 24 fret guitar this is an octave node so the fret is in unison to the open string. On a 22 or 21 fret guitar I will set it at the last fret but always double check against the 12th fret fretted because of the inherent inconsistencies found in fretted instruments.
If your trem is not in factory spec then you can eyeball it close and then tweak it to perfect. If you have the Edge intonation tool that's correct for your trem type this job will be much easier than if you don't. If you don't, look in the mirror and say goodbye to a few thousand hairs before you begin.
With all the open strings in perfect tune [either by harmonic at the 12th or just the open string] fret the high E at the last fret with the same pressure you would use when playing. Check the tuner.
If the note is sharp the saddle is too close to the fret and needs to be moved back. If the note is flat the saddle is too far away from the fret and needs to be moved closer.
If you are using the tool attach it to the saddle and tighten it up. Loosen the saddle -screw just enough to move the saddle, adjust the saddle, retune, and with the tool still in place recheck the last fret fretted. Adjust until correct then tighten the screw. Remove the tool and retune the string. Move to the B string and repeat. Every 2 strings recheck the tuning of all strings and make sure they are all in perfect tune before continuing. Work from the high E to the low E. When every string is correct make sure to check the trem angle again as it will move slightly as you intonate the entire bridge.
If you are not using the tool you will need to slack the string enough to be able to move the saddle by hand without the string tension interfering. Retighten the screw, retune, recheck, and then repeat with continued slacking the string to make any further adjustment. Pay very close attention to where the saddle was, where you moved it to, and approximate how far it will need to move to intonate the string, this will save you alot of time over just blindly moving the saddle and hope it's in the right spot. You can easily see how large a pain in the ass this will be. Expect to spend at least an hour intonating alone.
The new Edge Pro has a correct intonation jig set from the factory. If they ever get it started in the right spot I'll let you know! And as soon as I figure out exactly how to readjust it to correct I will note it here of course. There is no intonation tool currently designed for the Edge Pro bridge.
There are many reasons to pull the trem with strings on for doing everything from regular maintenance to major surgery. Anything from chasing tuning instability, basic cleaning of the trem, changing the studs, inspect or file the knife edges, tighten the arm holder, or altogether change the trem. [[To change the trem just unlock all the strings and remove them. Reinsert them in the new trem making sure they're in the right saddles and not crossed! Helps if you eyeball the intonation on the new trem before installing, hopefully the old one is intonated and eyeball the distances right from that one [90% of the used guitars I buy have never had the factory non-intonation changed]]. I also do all my neck work on new guitars by pulling the trem, because I'm not restringing it, I'm just making some adjustments. Adding a neck shim is almost mandatory and there's no better way to get access to the bare fretboard than to just pull all the strings to the side. When I'm installing a neck shim I'll polish the frets and then oil the board while the neck is off the guitar. [If I'm not adding a shim and therefore not removing the neck, I'll mask off the pickups with tape before getting any steel wool even close to them. [To pull the tape stick another piece on top of it or all the wool fibers sitting on it will pull straight to the pickups when you pull it off.]] In essence, a very easy way to work on a double locking guitar in many circumstances and for many reasons.
Everybody is always so paranoid the first time they pull a trem. I'll demonstrate it here on a $5000 DNA just to put you at ease. This is the only sane way to remove a trem, with the strings attached. If you ever tried to install a trem without the strings on it, don't. The guitar should be at full pitch with the nut pads locked down, as it would be to play. **WARNING** Do not attempt to pull a Double Edge piezo bridge!! It is held in by a bundle of 6 fragile wires that are double soldered through the circuit board. You will require some soldering "skills". You can pull a piezo bridge just enough to change studs, or more precariously, file the knives.
First step, remove the trem cover. Really need a pic?!?! Well, OK.
I'll use a fingernail on a corner of the cover to lift it out. You can also just turn the guitar upside down and it'll fall out. "Some" will be in very tight and will require some finagling, beating around the edges of the cover to break it free from the clear if it's stuck, tweaking micro-screwdrivers in the holes to try and lift it, etc. I had one the clearcoat had actually wrapped around the top of the cover and was not coming out without breaking the cover out of it. It was on JP's Swiss Camo Custom Shop 7 string, I wasn't going to press my luck, the trem angle was "close enough" and it was obvious JP or his tech had never tried to remove it either!!
Remove the block lock [that locks the springs to the block]
Now you can pull the springs. I'll use a pair of needle nose pliers [careful not to gouge the inside of the cavity with the nose of the pliers!!] and remove each outer spring.
Springs have a tendency to just *fly* so I'll protect the body [the guitar's and mine:)] by covering the cavity with my free hand. These are springs and fairly stiff ones at that. Don't be a wimp and expect it to yank the pliers as they pop out. Let it, don't try to fight it. [the pliers are laying on the body so I could use the camera, they would be at a steeper angle, safely away from the clearcoat]
When you have just the center spring left you want to support the tail of the trem, where the fine tuners are, from underneath while you pull the last spring. I always work in my lap so I'll support the trem by having it sit on my leg. You can do this with the guitar face down on carpet, a towel, "padded" workbench, etc. All you're doing is supporting the trem so it doesn't fall out.
And here it is with all springs pulled.
Now turn the guitar over. I'll reach under the body and slip my fingers under the tail of the trem, apply a little pressure, and turn it over.
Here's how my hand would look supporting it underneath.
At this point it will just sit there, weighted against the string tension.
Time to remove it. Grasp it at the tail and pull out and away from the posts. The high strings are the only ones that will have any tension left in them so you're really just pulling the treble side of the trem. Pull it back and off the posts, then out of the cavity.
The only thing that makes it slightly tricky is that the trem block will touch the edge of the rout under the trem, on a guitar like this I'm very careful. Putting it back in is where you want to watch this even more.
The empty cavity, you can now do whatever you needed to do ;)
Reinstalling the trem is the exact reverse of the steps you just followed. Slip the trem into the rout watching the trem block and that front edge of the cavity as shown 2 pics ago. Pull the treble side hard enough to slip it over the posts and back into the V's on the posts. If it scrapes against the posts it's just fine, do not worry. Now, make perfectly sure the knife edges are in the V's!! [I have installed trems in a hurry and had one knife out of the V, springs back on, flip it over, and wonder what happened to the action?!?! Start from step one, remove springs and reset the knives in the post V's.] With the knives in the V's place your hand as shown above to support the tail of the trem while you turn the guitar back over, making sure the tail of the trem is supported when you take your hand away. This is where a knife edge will slip out of a V so keeping pressure on the tail will keep it in place.
After you've turned it over it's time to put the springs back on, starting with the *center* spring. Putting springs on is a little tougher than taking them off, they will require *force* to get the spring tang back in the hole. I'll push the pliers from behind with my thumb to add the required force, making sure i'm pushing down on the body hard enough to keep it secure. There is ample force required and you can easily move the guitar while pushing. Make absolutely *sure* the eye of the spring is *firmly* seated around the claw hook before you force the spring open. Work carefully, grasp the spring tightly with the pliers, keep the body secure, and push with even controlled force to open the spring, again, making sure the eye of the spring is firmly seated around the hook on the claw. The center spring is already installed, you can just barely see the spring I'm putting on under my thumb, which I'm using to force the spring open. Again, careful not to gouge the inside of the cavity with the nose of the pliers. I'm actually grasping the spring deeper in the nose than it looks, the tip of the nose is in shadow.
You will notice that as you force the spring open the tang will rotate counterclockwise as the spring opens. The tang will then be at an angle when you get it to the hole in the block. No matter, get the tip of the tang started in the hole, "then" push it perpendicular and wiggle it down into the hole till it's well started. Then with my thumb pushing down on the top of the pliers/tang to help keep it in place, carefully work the nose of the pliers out. Pull the nose out a bit, push tang further in the hole, repeat, till the spring is fully seated. Make sure it is fully seated before you remove your thumb.
If you have a tang that is at a severe angle already [the tang already has a back angle bent into it that makes it tougher to jump out of the block, this is not the angle I mean. I'm talking about if the eyelet is parallel to the ground the tang can be pointing 30 degrees either clockwise or counterclockwise] as many of the new guitars I've been working on, it's going to be much more important that the pliers are at a "cross angle" to the tang so that the tang won't slip through the pliers. Hopefully you'll get 2 tangs that point in one direction and one tang that points in the other to make pliers slip-age a non issue if you "think" about which spot to install each spring, but sometimes this means putting a spring on with the pliers working dangerously close to the body contrary to how I show it below. If the tang slips through the pliers your momentum can carry you halfway across the back of the guitar grinding your paint with the pliers the whole way. Look twice, analyze 3 times, think 4 times, install once!!
I will install the center and far spring as I have shown, but, the near spring I will install with the pliers facing the other way, of course pushing with my thumb, I just can't push and take the shot. [from the previous paragraph and in a perfect world, the center and far springs would have a tang pointing toward me, and the tang on this near spring would be pointing away from me. If you put needle-nose on the tang and think for a second you'll understand this] Someday I do intend to buy one of those "spring tools" just to try it out, but sometimes we get stuck in our ways and resist change. This page is all about how you can work on your guitar with tools found in any tool box and not so much how to stock a full time techs toolbox.
Why? Good reason. You need to keep the pliers at a low angle, remembering the spring tang will twist as you open the spring, you want to keep the pliers as perpendicular to the tang as possible. If the tang ever slips through the pliers your momentum will end up gouging the pliers across the back of the guitar. To keep the pliers at this low angle you get the pliers dangerously close to the edge of the trem cavity, and as you're applying force in an awkward position, might not notice you just cracked the clearcoat until, well, you just cracked the clearcoat!! Trust me, I learned this after I put a dink on the edge of a trem cavity, of a Donnie. Lessons like that you don't forget, you just wish you had learned them on something cheaper!!! See?
That's why you put that near spring on in the seemingly awkward position shown above. You lefty guys will have to figure your own way of doing this safely, I've never tried working lefty so I don't have any advice ;o}
Aside from the springs reacting to being closed and reopened, the guitar should be very very close to in tune just as it was when you pulled the trem. Make sure it's at pitch and double check the trem angle before proceeding. Adjust if necessary, but rarely is it needed if it was correct when you began. Let it sit for 1/2 hour if the springs were out a long time before you start playing with adjusting the trem angle, this will give them time to resettle. If you have replaced the trem with another one expect the saddles/intonation to be set differently on the new trem [good trick is to eyeball the saddles into approximate position to the trem you're removing]. Adjust everything before proceeding.
Make sure to remember to put the block lock back on. You do "not" want this so tight you bend the bar, it will bend very easily. You want the springs seated and locked down, but the lock only has to be "secure". These lock screws will also strip the block holes easily if you cross the threads, make sure the screw is perpendicular and carefully thread it in. Once the trem cover is back on the job is done.
To replace the studs first pull the trem as shown above. So you don't mix them up replace one at a time. Unscrew the stud from it's anchor. Hold it next to the replacement stud and align the point of the V grooves up as close as possible. Using the wrench for the set screws wind the set screw of the replacement stud down to match the stud you are replacing. This will keep the action very close to what you had previously. Screw the new stud in and repeat for the other. Reinstall the trem.
Because no two batches of studs are cut exactly the same you will have to do some setup tweaks. Some of the V's will be cut deeper, some not as deep. First, retune of course. Check and correct the trem angle, then tweak the action height if you notice any difference. You might also need to reset the intonation.
Trem bar noise is typically one of two things,
Tightening the arm holder is best done with the trem removed from the guitar. I'll put the trem block into a vise to hold it and use a set of channel lock pliers to tighten the holder from the bottom side. Only grab the END of the arm holder with the pliers because if you use them anywhere else on the holder you'll deform the holder and the bar will not fit in it anymore. I normally don't remove the bar retaining spring but be aware if you spin over it with the pliers you'll be ordering a new spring. Once you have the holder itself tight take a 10mm wrench and while keeping counterclockwise tension on the holder with the pliers, tighten the holder nut [if you try to tighten the nut without keeping the tension on the holder the holder will loosen again] You will find some later model Lo Pro Edge trem where it's impossible to get the nut tight without loosening the holder [I have yet to get to the bottom of this] and in this case it's more important to have the holder tight than the nut tight, so tighten with the pliers as tight as you can possibly get it [remember, only use the pliers at the tip of the holder!!]. Of course there is a tool they use to tighten the holder at the factory from the top and why the holder has a slot cut in the top, but the tool is not available anywhere [even from the factory]. Some people will use a large screwdriver and tighten the holder from the top, but you have a very great chance of slipping out of the slot and making a major scratch, and, you will not get the holder near as tight as you will using channel lock pliers at the tip of the holder. I have found that a holder tightened this way is tight for good, but some of you may want to go the extra step and use Locktite on the holder threads before tightening. Locktite is available at most auto parts stores and is used in engines to keep bolts from loosening under constant vibration. More or less, it glues the threads together, but not so glued it can't be pulled apart again later.
If you're having problems keeping the guitar in tune.
1. The most overlooked problem is not having the strings completely stretched in. They need to be stretched hard (except the high E which will break under hard stretching) until you can stretch them twice in a row and they do not drop in pitch. Use your tuner when stretching strings. With a floating bridge when 1 string goes out of tune, they all go out of tune.
2. The second most common problem is the trem post set screws not being locked down. There is a set screw inside the trem post which can be seen here and here. Make sure these are tight using the 1.5mm Allen wrench. To make sure they are firmly set after tightening the set screws, turn the posts down slightly using the 4mm Allen wrench, just enough to lock the threads together. You don't want to force it enough to spin an anchor, but you want the threads firmly locked together.
3. Another common problem with tuning is not having the trem at the proper angle. See the first section Trem Angle and correct the angle as needed.
4. Loose nut. All metal to wood contact points will loosen as the wood shrinks and should be checked and tightened every 3 months minimum. Tighten the 2 Allen screws on the back of the neck/nut with a 2.5mm Allen wrench to make sure the nut is well secured. You want the nut *snug* but you do not want to OVERtighten. Too much torque on the nut screws is the primary cause of cracking the neck behind the nut! I'll use what I call "light to medium 1 finger torque", the amount of torque you can apply with one finger at the end of the Allen wrench. It's purely based on the way I feel the torque, but typically 1/4 turn past full contact will keep the nut snug and in place. It doesn't not need to be *tight*, it just needs to be tight "enough" that it won't move.
5. Inspect the nut pads for grooves on their curved bottoms that would allow the strings to slip. Pretty unusual but I have seen this on older models. Also make sure you are putting the pads on correctly. The curve on their bottom conforms to the curve on the top of the nut. Some older pads have the curves faced opposite of what we see today. i.e. an LNG Jem's pads peaked tops line up in a row, where a modern pad the peaks line up the same direction the strings run.
6. Neck screws not tight. This allows the neck to move slightly, enough to throw tuning out. Another metal to wood contact point that must be checked periodically.
7. A slightly loose saddle will move occasionally and when it slacks that string makes the rest of the strings go out of tune. Make sure all the saddle lock down screws are tight using the 2mm Allen wrench. Might as well set the intonation while you're at it!! ;)
8. Interference - Check everything in the trem system for contact with the body, wiring, pickguard, your nephews bubble gum, etc. i.e. You'll find quite a few UV's with the pickguard slightly touching one of the tongues at the front of the trem. Any contact will not allow the trem to return to neutral.
9. If it's a brand new guitar break the springs in with some violent whammin, up and down. [This will also have a small effect in forming the knife edge to the posts] Same thing goes if it's a guitar that hasn't been played in a long time. Springs get static and create a memory, when you start to break this memory they can react in a non linear fashion until they get "broken in" again.
The next 4 points will require removal of the trem. Directions here.
10. Gummed up knives. Alot of people belive that you should oil the posts and knives. Personally I've never seen any improvement by doing this, but what I do see is the oil collect enough dirt and crud to literally gum up the works. Use your wife's toothbrush to clean the crud off of the posts and knives.
11. Grooves worn into the trem post V. When the trem posts have worn out from use or constant adjustment, a groove will wear into the seat or V. Visually inspect and replace if necessary. If your guitar is a 2000' or 2001' it's very possible it has bad posts. The tolerances at Gotoh had shifted and nobody caught it till way too many were installed. There is a *New Cut* trem post that has the correct tolerance in the V. Read more in the next section on Flat Knife Edges and Bad Trem Posts.
12. The knife edges of the trem become worn or damaged and require filing [or possibly replacing] to get back to a proper knife edge. The same procedure as fixing a flat knife edge, see this section to walk you through sharpening the knives.
13. The trem post anchor has become loose. The trem posts screw into a metal anchor that is press fit into the body wood. Over time this anchor can become loose, especially on guitars where the trem post set screws have not been tightened allowing play between the post and anchor. Remove the trem and with the post set screws tight try to wiggle the posts with your fingers to see if there is any play. If they are loose you will need to pull them out of the body. Make sure to cut the paint from around the top of the anchor, grab the post (preferably an old junk post to use just for this) with a pair of pliers and work it out of the body. Use a good quality epoxy dabbled around the inside lip of the hole. Press the anchor back into the body the same way you pulled it with pliers on the post. Let sit for at least 24 hours before reassembly. [Many lower line guitars do not have post anchors. Some screw right into a metal plate that is screwed to the body. You get what you pay for.]
You'll have to do the same thing if your anchor is tight, but spinning in it's hole. Sometimes a set screw can be so tight you'll bend an allen wrench trying to get it loose, and turning the post without looseing the set screw causes the anchor to just spin. The only way to free the post is to pull the anchor out so you can grip the anchor with pliers while wrenching out the post. Reinstall as above.
If a loose anchor is neglected long enough it can actually oblong the hole, sometimes to a great extent. You can actually see that the post is not at 90* to the body. If the oblong is within 1mm using epoxy will fill it enough. Be careful not to use too much epoxy or when you press the post back in it will be forced in through the hole in the anchor/ Use plenty, but not too much ;) If the oblong is larger than 1.5mm you'll need to use a good non shrinking wood patch on the neck side of the hole. Pack it in, more at the top than in the middle of the hole, but not too much. While it's still wet [work fast, wood patch has a tendency to dry very fast] press the anchor back into the hole and seat it. Try to press it in at a perfect 90* angle to the body. When it's seated pull it straight back out keeping it at the same 90* angle. Let the patch cure for 24 hours and then reinstall the anchor using epoxy as described in the first paragraph.
14. Wide flat knife edges. I see wide knife edges on even much order guitars sporatically but it's consistently seen on 1998' - 2001', through current production guitars [although they have been thinner most recently and reminiscent of circa 90' knives] The next section is devoted to this problem.
15. Bad trem posts. The next section covers this problem.
Note - Not all guitars will reach a perfect 100% float, in fact most will be at 98 or 99% which means neutral will have a few strings off by a very few cents, something that the tuner sees but your ears really don't hear. I consider a 95% float one where several strings come back far enough out I can hear it. Worst case would be a 90% which comes back nearly 1/4 step out of tune on several or all the strings, usually caused by contact with a pickguard, or the wide flat knives with sharp corners in tight posts explained next. For whatever reason, and with *everything* perfect, checked, double checked, and alot of head scratching, I just can't figure out why a 98% guitar isn't 100%. Every now and then I'll actually get one that floats absolutely true, 100%, 0 cent raise in pitch, but man are they rare. The object is to get the performace to as near perfect as possible, and near perfect is easy to get. Near perfect NObody can hear the difference. [you can't fool the tuner though] Next I'll be experimenting with lubes on all spring contact points and graphite on the knives till I figure it out. ;o}
Sometime in the early 90's a decision was made to fatten the knife edges for longer life. They're just a little too wide to freely breath and along the way the tollerence would slip and some knife edges would get fatter. I find these sporadically on 90's trems, but overall the knives are still just too wide to float freely. Around 99'/00'' these far too wide edges started showing up more consistently. It was sometime late in 2000' I reported the problem and by early 02' they've gotten the knife down to a fairly consistent .4mm which floats extremely well is the redesigned studs. Occasionally I will encounter a wider knife on an 02' that needs attention but they are infrequent. The real binding ones that will cause an audibly out of pitch return will most likely be found on 99' - early 01' models. The knife edge itself is not only flat but the flat part of the edge is much wider than it should be, the very corners where these planes meet also very sharp, promoting binding. Imagine sticking a box in a V and expect it to pivot freely.
Not sure exactly when, but the tolerances of the V cut into the trem posts had slipped. The bottom angle of the V was now smaller and tighter, pinching the knife edge causing binding. They have now corrected the posts and the New Cut posts have a groove cut around the post between the V and the start of the threads (I will start calling them Grooved posts when this is common knowledge). This groove is cut there just to be able to identify the new posts from the old. The new post is rediesigned and the point of the V now has a nice U shape relief which is needed for the knife to freely pivot. Posts have never been better and I would recomend changing any old Edge/Lo Pro posts to these new non binding posts. They begin to appear on production guitars sometime mid to late 01'. This was Ibanez' cure to the fat knife edge problem I had reported in late 00'. I had never examined the post close enough to see the change in the angle but it's very easy to see the difference in the V of a new post compared to any old post.
This is an older post on the left and the New Cut post on the right, barely noticeable is the groove around the New Cut for identification, between the V and the threads. It's very tough to see but the bottom angle of the V on the older post is at a smaller angle making the V tighter. You can also see the very 'point' of the V on the New Cut post is much more open.
This combination of tight posts and wide knives created problems with tuning stability on these guitars. The angle of the V in the posts is now smaller, while the edge of the Knife is wider, creating pinching of the knife in the V. The *corners* of the knife edge are also sharp, so they are now *biting* into the now reduced V of the post, not allowing the trem to return to neutral resulting in a 90%-97% guitars.
Very easy to determine if all other factors in your system are correct and tight. See section directly above before proceeding and complete each of those checks first. To diagnose, get the guitar into perfect tune, give it a little whammy abuse and then fine tune again. Push down on the bar and let it rise to neutral position. Check tuning, fine tune where necessary. Now pull up on the bar and let it return to neutral. DO NOT push the bar past neutral. Check tuning. If your strings are now all very sharp this is a classic sign of the flat knives and/or bad posts. It should also respond to just touching the bar up or down 1/4" from neutral if you check neutral.
Now, push the bar down and let it rise. Fine tune. You can play and it will stay in tune if the last motion the bar made was rising to neutral. As soon as you pull up on the bar it will return sharp unless you push it slightly past neutral so the bar is on the rise as the last motion. Confused? ;) The trem is not floating right so the neutral you're originally tuning to is a false neutral, but becomes neutral to the trem when the motion is in one direction. Still confused? Me too ;) If you pull up on the bar and fine tune it will act the same way as a second false neutral, but will only be in tune if the last motion is the bar falling, as soon as you let the bar rise to neutral it's flat.
You will need to pull the trem to check the knives. A good knife edge looks like the edge of a butterknife. It is not sharp, and it does not have a wide flat at the edge. See the next section Sharpening Knife Edges for a more detailed explanation.
Flat knife edges alone will cause tuning instability even with the New Cut corrected posts.
Bad posts will cause tuning instability even with good knife edges.
It's difficult to see the added indetification groove in the shot above so here's a better shot. Notice that the groove will be cut in a different spot on each manufacturing batch but always between the V and the threads -
If you never percieve your guitar as out of tune then you obviously *don't* need to file! If you are troubleshooting a tuning instability problem exhaust every other option listed above before proceeding!
Before proceeding any further read the last two paragraphs and follow the instructions, you may find the results adequate enough to stop there.
At perfect tune, in the bar down neutral, the trems are stable as a ROCK. You can abuse
the living Hell out of them and they'll always return to perfect tune. As long as you
don't pullup, and *rest* up. Some you can pullup and the difference in pitch just isn't
enough that most people would notice, and why 75% will never have a clue. But there are
some that return so sharp ANYbody can notice. And still, if you never pullup and leave up,
you'll never notice that either. Only file if the way YOU play leaves you *noticing* it
out of tune. But everybody should install a set of the new studs, they are the best
improvement since Leo thought about putting strings on a plank ;)
I've seen some trems with flat knives .75mm wide. Way too wide, .5mm is still too wide, .33mm is about the thinnest I've ever filed them to and the .4mm factory edges float extremely well in new studs so use that as a guide. We're not talking about making a steak knife here and you will hear this again, about the width and shape of a butter knife edge. Leaving them wider is always more preferable than getting them too sharp!
***Doing this to a new guitar under warranty will void the warranty of your trem.***
***I highly recommend you do not try and file Double Edge piezo bridges. The lead is very short and any break in that lead and your piezo is dead. It can be removed enough to drop in a set of the redesigned studs but I recommend you stop there. I filed 2 X bridges, it's a very dangerous and precarious position you must get all the "parts" in to do the job. I will not do anymore. It can be fully removed but it requires unsoldering 2 joints on the circuit board, which in itself is not a simple job, have a look and you'll agree.***
This trem is out of a beautiful 2000' Floral Jem. The 2000's are of superb quality and probably the best Florals made, but unfortunately many have the wider knives. Here's how you fix them. This is probably the best shot I could get of the *flat* edge of this knife. The white reflection of the light is the flat. This one isn't bad, a hair over .5mm, but it's too wide and the corners of the edge are still very sharp.
In contrast the curved sides almost never need attention. This is the best shot I could get to show the very edge of the curved knife. You can see how much thinner and rounded the edge itself is. Seen here by the very dark edge.
Very very rarely will you ever see a curved edge that is too wide, and on the contrary many of them are extremely sharp as they backcut the top edge creating a point - V. Not to say I haven't filled many curved sides too, but I work on LOTS of guitars. If one ever needs attention or is damaged these get filed from the top side toward the arm holder as the holder precludes following the method below. Finish as per below. You can remove the arm holder but it is unnecessary. Since the round bastard file does not cut smoothly like the flat file I'll use a strip of 200 grit wet-or-dry paper to smooth the curved side out after filing. Wrap the paper around the file and get the knife as smooth as possible after it's been worked on.
After you determine the knives need attention you'll of course need good files. These are both from Sears, a 6" Taper File - Slim which is triangular with a tapered end, maximum width 7mm. The round file is a 6" Round - Bastard Cut, maximum 5mm diameter.
The first step is to mask off the trem with tape anywhere the file could wander into it. It only takes a TOUCH with the file to mar the cosmo finish!!
You want to file from the bottom as that is the angled cut on the knife. Keep the file centered and stable as you use it, it doesn't take much to bite through the masking tape and into the finish. You can see I use my thumb to guide it. Do not push down with your thumb, it's just acting as a wall. You want to file with as even a pressure as possible. If you have more pressure on the right side of the file you'll get an angled cut, center the pressure. I keep my index finger on the top of the file applying the pressure straight down, I just can't take that picture ;)
I've got to update this part. I quit worrying about the bottom of the plate long ago.
The pics show me taping off the bottom of the plate but currently I file the plate right
along with the knife. It allows the angle of the file to be closer to the original angle
of the knife and actually stabilizes the file and keeps it truer when filing. I'll try to
You also want to try and keep the angle as shallow as possible. The knives angle is shallower than you can file because of the base plate, which is why I've been filling the baseplate as well as the knife to keep the angle as shallow as possible.
You do NOT want the edge sharp!! The object is to get it *butterknife* sharp. For reference about .3mm and rounded at it's edge. Here is a shot of how much I filed the bottom side.
Now I want to finish this side by curving the corner of the edge. Hard to explain but right now the 'corner' is sharp as the 2 planes meet, the flat face of the knife - and the angle of the side / , where they meet it's sharp and you want to slightly round it otherwise the sharp corner will bite into the post when using the trem. Start with the file at the steepest angle you have been filing and through the stroke increase the angle till you finish perpendicular and filing the face. Not much pressure is needed on the file and it will only take about 4 passes to get the slight curve. Usually I'll just do 2 passes doing a stabbing stroke like a jig saw while I increase the angle to round them off. This is the result, as clear as I can get it to show in jpg.
The top edge is usually crisply sharp also so I'll file just *slightly* from the top just to dull the edge a hair. Just like the last strokes on the bottom side, here I want to file the same slight curve to take the sharpness off. This is the end of that stroke. Like the bottom, usually 4 is plenty but it will depend on how much pressure you apply and how long your stroke. [nasty joke edited] The lighter the pressure and the smoother you will leave the steel, preferable! I can't do either and take a picture ;)
The end result is a slight U shaped edge instead of the box shape it was in when I started, butterknife width, butterknife sharp. Optimal would be anywhere in the .3 - .4mm wide range and if in any doubt, file a little, reinstall the trem, and test. You can always pull it out and trim a little more but you can't put the steel back on the edge. If you get them too thin you'll have to file it back blunt again which could remove several years of life from your knives.
This trem is ready to be reinstalled but it cannot be installed on the pinched V posts that came originally on this guitar. I'm installing a set of the New Cut posts, otherwise the best knife edge in the world still won't give you stable tuning when using the trem. This is the original post on the left and the New Cut post on the right, barely noticeable is the groove around the New Cut for identification, between the V and the threads. It's very tough to see but the bottom angle of the V on the original post is at a smaller angle making the V tighter. You can also see the very 'point' of the V on the New Cut post is much more open.
To make the setup easy after swapping the posts I'll preset the depth of the set screw on the New post by lining it up with the old post and set screw. Of course I removed the original posts without touching the set screws. Now when I put the trem back in the action height hasn't changed. The guitar was actually still in almost perfect tune which is quite rare because the depth of the grooves are different on each different run of studs. Usually you'll have to reset the trem angle and check the intonation. But the most important part, the tuning remained stable under whammy dives and bottoming out pullups! Job done.
**UPDATE** - I took alot of heat about filling knives and recommending the rest of you could improve your performance if you were having problems in this area. Well, I'm feeling quite vindicated now. These are close ups of the knife on an 03' Edge Pro bridge. Notice that Gotoh is now rough grinding both edges of the knife to thin it out before pressing it into the baseplate. Fairly crude but they're performing extremely well [if you've upgraded the new Edge Pro's degradation to non locking studs]
Even with the knives filled perfect you may have some sharp return after a pullup. I scratched my head trying to get over this last hump for a long time and tried oils and grease to no effect. The secret ingredient - Chapstick Lip Balm. This is a very waxy type grease that will take a 95% trem return and instantly make it a 99%, and typically take a 98% and make it 100%. I would highly recommend this as a first step before any filing on the knife edges of even stud replacement, it's just that effective. I'm not sure how well this product is distributed around the world so you international boys might want to hit Yahoo Shopping and try and find somebody that will ship a couple sticks overseas [a couple so you can share it with your mates!]. I may even start stocking it LOL [Sidenote, I couldn't stand the stuff when my wife would put it on her lips, nothing worse than that big old slippery greasy kiss [except lipstick, which leaves you looking just as sexy as her after a smooch] but considering the results it gives on trem fulcrums I'm now thinking about buying stock in the company!]
With the guitar in perfect setup [including the stud's set screws locked] use your 4mm wrench to spin the stud 180 degrees [lefty loosey!]. Take a toothpick and work the Chapstick until you have a small ball of it at the tip.You want to spread and deposit this ball in the groove of the stud exactly opposite the knife [it's been turned 180 degrees so when you turn it back it will be at the knife] and just a tad before exactly 180 to guarantee the knife gets coated also. Spin the stud back 180 till the set screws seat and lock. Do both curved and straight side knives. When done whammy a bit to spread the coat everywhere the knife will make contact. With your last motion a bar down and rise to neutral [this is the only way you should fine tune a guitar] fine tune until the instrument is in perfect tune. You should now enjoy superior return from a straight pullup of the bar with all strings returning to near perfect tuning.
Thanks to Gary Brower for this tip, he's been using it on Chromeboy for years and it's always kept a smile on Joe's face ;o}
The best mod I could come up with to add the locking studs to the 03' Ibanez model line of Edge Pro equipped guitars, short of pulling the stud inserts and putting a set of Lo Pro inserts in, unnecessary with the set screw mod.
The set screws are originally 6mm long. They need to be ground down to under 4mm to be used without adding a neck shim to the guitar [and thereby raising the trem further out of the body]. I have now begun grinding these for a $5 charge as I finally went out and bought a real grinder ;)
You can visually see how these work by looking in the NAMM 03' Trem Review section here.
With the trem removed as detailed here, remove the non locking studs from the body. With a 4mm Allen wrench thread the set screws down into the stud inserts [if the base of the set screw is not perfectly flat or you have them at an angle you will cross thread them. Any sing it's cross threading back them out and begin again trying to keep them as perpendicular to the insert as possible]. Keep downward pressure on these set screws as they're ground thin enough that most of the Allen hole is gone, just enough left to get the Allen to grip and spin it down, but not so much it will be easy to find the hole again if you slip out with the wrench. Screw them all the way down until they just make contact with the wood, then back them back out a hair by spinning the wrench 180 degrees. This will keep the pressure of locking the threads of the locking stud from pushing the set screw into the wood, possibly raising the insert a hair. With both set screws in take the locking studs and screw them down in. Reinstall the trem. You will have to do a basic setup after installing the mod as the V in every batch of studs is cut to a different depth which will mean you'll have to adjust the trem angle. Of course you will need to set the action height also. Once the setup is done use a 1.5mm Allen wrench and locking set screw in the stud. Once they are tight you will need to use the 4mm Allen again in the stud to take all the remaining slop out of the threads. Usually no more than 1/8 of a turn but it depends on how tight you got the studs set screws toi begin with. You're not trying to break the set screw under the stud or spin it hard enough to spin the insert, but you do want to take the slop out of the threads effectively locking the stud. You should find tuning return from a whammy pull-up much more stable now. If it's still a little out, back out the stud 180 degrees and dab a ball of Chapstick Lip Balm in the groove directly opposite the knife edge so that when you spin it 180 degrees back it will be on the knife. Whammy a bit to work it around and then test again, you should find improvement in the tuning return.
Remember to always fine tune after releasing the bar from a whammy dive. This is what I'd call your stable neutral. No trem will be 1000% on return from a pull-up but it should be so close you'll never know unless looking at a tuner, and then still barely off. Once you dive the bar it will always return to perfect tune again [as long as the guitar is in good setup, maintenance, and the strings properly stretched] which is why you always fine tune in the exact same spot every time, with the bar returning to neutral from a dive.
Every now and then I'll come across a set of short springs and they're such a bitch to adjust I always just pull them immediately and put in a "regular" set. I just did an RG7CT [99' model] with them and figured a few of you guys are experiencing the same. Here's the difference
You can clearly see how gold toned the short spring is compared to the normal. In a setup the difference between 3 of each can be as much as 3/4" [20mm] in where the position of the spring claw is. The short spring remain in a nearly closed position making them so finicky to adjust. These short springs will counterbalance a set of 10's [in fact I've used 2 short springs in arrow formation with 10's] and 11' gauge strings without problem, and possibly 12's or higher, but for 9's they're just a pain.
To swap springs, with the guitar in correct current setup, pull one spring at a time and replace. When all are done start screwing in the claw under the guitar comes back into tune, fine dial in all the details and you're done. Since these shorties were original issue you'll probably find the claw screws will be biting virgin wood when you screw them in to the proper depth for the longer springs. Just screw hard and they'll get there [good advice in bed too]. ;)
**A closed spring requires more force to open than a open spring**
**The more open a spring the easier it is to open even further**
**Always let springs settle for an hour after adjustment and retweak if necessary**
**Springs retain a "memory" and need to settle to develop new memory**
This is inherent to all floating bridges and is perfectly normal. If you watch the bridge as you bend a string, it will pull forward, and as it does every other string is pulling flat. There are a few ways to resolve this situation. The first is to micro bend the double stop into tune, a technique that's very easy to get used to [for me I generally pull the B string while pushing on the G, just feels more natural than pushing both to different degrees. Doesn't work so well on the E/B though as you'll pull the E off the frets ;)] There are also devices such as the Tremsetter and Ibanez Backstop, that both address the problem. Another cure is to add spring tension that's pulling on the bridge so it takes much more force to pull the bridge forward with a string bend. It's something you'll need to experiment with to find the degree of relief you can live with. You can add one spring or even two, and with 5 springs you'll have lots of extra tension "holding" the bridge in position. making it much more difficult to pull forward. Unfortunately adding all this tension makes for a very stiff playing guitar as part of that buttery feel on string bending is the fact the bridge *is* pulling forward with little resistance, but, it is a solution to keep your double stops in tune.
To really stiffen it up 5 springs would almost give hardtail-esque performance, but because the springs are not counterbalancing heavy gauge strings it means the springs will be very closed with the strings at pitch, So closed you'll get very stiff string bending, a very heavy bar feel, and they're also an absolute pain to make small trem angle adjustments, one of the things you'll have to learn to deal with while performing maintenance. You might find that just a fourth spring is enough to be tolerable with how well it will hold tune against a bend but still give you more pliable action. Even 3 using an arrow formation will add more tension. The point is you'll have to experiment to find a solution that's right for you.
So far I've been speaking of stock Ibanez springs which you'll find in nearly all new Ibanez. There will be 3 and they are 52mm long. They do make a short 47mm spring that is about as strong as 2 of the 52mm springs. Currently they are in K7 models and I'll run into them in some Prestige and J Custom models, read the section on Sensitive Springs. Joe has always used 2 of these 47mm strings in arrow formation as this was his preferred combination of keeping double stops more in tune vs. feel. I have used 2 springs in arrow formation to counterbalance 10 gauge string in regular tuning. 3 of these short springs in straight formation will counterbalance 12's. They offer the highest tension you can put in your guitar but you will pay the price in maintenance as they are extremely sensitive making adjustments [again, read the Sensitive Springs section]. For no logical reason have I ever used more than 3 x 47's but if you want a "hardtail" floating bridge I'm sure 5 would get you there! ;)
A read through the Trem Angle section and the Removing The Bridge section should get you prepped for the task. With the guitar in tune and the nut locked, takeoff the string lock block. There are now 5 holes in the trem block, and 5 hooks on the spring claw. If it's factory you have 3 springs in the 1 3 5 holes/hooks with the spring lock on. To add springs you'll have to use the holes for the spring lock [for an alternative read the last paragraph]. For a 5 spring setup just add springs to the 2 and 5 holes/hooks. To use 4 springs you'll be using 1 2 4 5 leaving the center hole/hook empty. These are all straight spring setups. An angled setup would be 2 springs in the 1 and 5 hole on the trem to the 2 and 4 claw and the center spring straight [or absent, depending on the results you're trying to achieve]
After you've changed tension in whatever formation you're experimenting with, he guitar was in tune when you started so now it's just a matter of adjusting the claw so the the total spring tension matches the string tension at pitch. In other words, loosen the claw springs until the guitar is in tune again, using the claw springs as your tuners. I always keep my claw parallel to the cavity instead of at any weird angle [which some people believe affects the feel of their guitars and why they do it, but that's just more experimenting you're free to do if you want to spend the time ;)] You're not going to get the guitar into perfect tune this way but you can get extremely close. Just remember that the springs will adjust to their new memory so stop short of where you want to be and the adjustment will take it further, let rest for an hour, tweak into perfection and lock and fine tune to play. If you just want to quickly test the feel you can do a half assed setup getting it close to tune as possible, lock the nut and you'll get a rough idea if you want to fine tune it more because it's close to what you want, or you may know instantly you want a harder hold, weaker, whatever you're trying to achieve with the change. Only you will know when it feels right and performs to your needs so taking the time to experiment and find the best setup for you is time well spent. Me, I happen to LOVE the fact the bridge pulls forward making string bending a breeze, to me that's one of the best benefits of the floating system ;o}
If you're a mad crazy whammy user with violent tendencies toward monster pull-ups you might want to consider using double eyelet springs [which have the eyelet on both ends instead of just one] for any additional added springs, this way you can still use the spring lock block to keep a spring from popping off [in the rarest occasion they would]
Stiff - The inability to bend strings and have that smooth, silky, 'buttery' feel.
How stiff your guitar plays depends on a few factors. The gauge and brand strings you use, the number of springs you have on, the angle of the trem, the height of the action, and the contact between the strings and frets.
I've been using DiAddario XL120's for years and what I use on all used guitars. For a 7 string I use a .054 on the bottom. I just happen to like the feel of them.
4 springs will always feel more stiff than 3. Even though they exert the same tension they do it from a more closed position. The more closed a spring is, the more force it takes to get it open. 2 springs in arrow formation will give you the spongy-est feel as they are the most 'open' of any configuration.
One of the reasons many people love the feel of older guitars is how spongy they feel when bending. This can be directly attributed to old and near worn out springs. Eventually they will need replacing but for the long period when they are weakening [but still useable] they are just buttery.
I've always found the springs get stiff from lack of use, like
they're static. They need to be used, and used a lot to get spongy. Springs react
weird to lots of things. Getting tweaked too much doing a setup they get *confused* until
they finally figure out what you're asking them to do! And then don't fully settle in for
24 hours. Not being stretched at all for long periods makes them really stiff until they
get abused a little to soften them up again. So abuse them!! :-)
As a guitar heats up it goes sharp, as a guitar cools down it goes flat.
Heat > wood expands > neck and body get longer putting more tension on the strings/springs > putting more pressure on the truss rod causing the neck to also flatten out, or even/usually go into backbow > pitch goes sharp.
Cold > wood shrinks > less tension on the strings/springs > less tension on the truss rod, which causes excess frontbow > pitch goes flat.
These same principles work for Wet and Dry. Wet wood swells and dry wood shrinks.
Heat = Wet - They will have the same effects.
Cold = Dry - They will have the same effects
Going from Cold *and* Dry to Hot *and* Wet is Hell on a setup. Our guitars are usually in a dry gas heated environment in the winter and then subjected to warmer wetter air during the summer. With each change in season your guitar should be given a complete overhaul, checking all the metal/wood contacts and readjusting the setup.
If your piezo is making extranious electrical noises with quiet strings, volume knob turned up - replace the battery, it's almost dead. It seems like the circut requires very little juice to operate, but when current level falls below a certain point the circuit will start making random electrical pops, hisses, and noises indescribable in type. We're talking a 9v I could stick on my toung and not feel a thing, near dead. Always keep a spare 9v battery in your case if you're gigging a Double Edge equiped guitar.
Typed verbatum from Ibanez instruction card that comes in every new UV1000 case.
Set your combination
1. Choose 3 digits you can recall easily - address, phone, birthday etc.
3. Your lock is now set to open on the three digits engaged at the time you release the button.
4. Accordingly - NEVER rotate the dials with the button held open UNLESS you make careful note of the dial setting upon release of the button.
5. The manufacturer is not responsible for damage resulting from misuse, abusive handling, or failure to follow instructions.
Remove the red arrow before setting lock.
* Please Note:
Make sure to cut down the red plastic pin before operation.
Author information goes here.